Red River Parish Data
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Welcome to Red River Parish!
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About Red River Parish...
As in many other rural areas, Red River Parish and the Red River Valley were areas of white vigilante and paramilitary violence after the Civil War, as insurgents tried to regain power after the South's defeat. The state legislature during Reconstruction created the parish in 1871, one of a number established to develop Republican Party strength.
Marshall H. Twitchell was a Union veteran who moved to the parish from Vermont and married a local woman. With the help of her family, he became a successful cotton planter and local leader. He was elected in 1870 as a Republican to the state legislature and filled four local offices with his brother and three brothers-in-law, the latter native to the parish. He won support from freedmen by appointing some to local offices and promoting education. The unpublished dissertation, Carpetbagger Extraordinary: Marshall Harvey Twitchell, 1840-1905 by the historian Jimmy G. Shoalmire studies Twitchell's life within the context of the social unrest in Red River Parish at the time.
For one individual, this brought to fruition a lifelong dream of having people living nearby whom he could call neighbors. Little did Robert E. Russ know that his dream for a new town to be located near his plantation would eventually become known as Ruston (shorthand for Russ town). By 1884, Ruston was incorporated. Russ had donated roughly 640 acres for the town's location, and former Union Army surveyors working for the railroad had laid out unusually wide, spacious avenues among the towering oaks and pines. Commercial and residential lots were created and soon the sawing of lumber and clacking of hammers could be heard throughout the area.
During the 1870s, there were regular outbreaks of violence in Louisiana, despite the presence of two thousand federal troops stationed there. The extended agricultural depression and poor economy of the late 19th century aggravated social tensions, as both freedmen and whites struggled to survive and to manage new labor arrangements.
The disputed gubernatorial election of 1872 increased political tensions in the state, especially as the outcome was unsettled for months. Both the Democratic Party and Republican candidates certified their own slates of local officers. Established in May 1874 from white militias, the White League was formed first in the Red River Valley in nearby Grant Parish. The organization grew increasingly well-organized in rural areas like Red River Parish. Soon White League chapters rose across the state. Operating openly, the White League used violence against officeholders, running some out of town and killing others, and suppressed election turnout among black and white Republicans.
In August 1874 the White League forced six white Republicans from office in Coushatta and ordered them to leave the state. Members assassinated them before they left Louisiana. Four of the men murdered were the brother and three brothers-in-law of state Senator Marshall Twitchell. The White League also killed five to twenty freedmen who had accompanied the Twitchell relatives and were witnesses to the vigilante acts.
Historians came to call the events the Coushatta Massacre. The murders contributed to Republican Governor William Pitt Kellogg's request to President Grant for more Federal troops to help control the state. Ordinary Southerners wrote to President Grant at the White House describing the terrible conditions of violence and fear they lived under during these times.
With increased voter fraud, paramilitary violence against Republican blacks and whites, and intimidation at the polls preventing people from voting, white Democrats regained control of the state legislature in 1876. The population of the parish in 1880 was 8,573, of whom 2,506 were whites and 6,007 were blacks. In 1898 the state achieved disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites through a new constitution that created numerous barriers to voter registration.
To seek better opportunities and escape the oppression of segregation, underfunded education, and disfranchisement, thousands of African Americans left Red River and other rural parishes in the Great Migration north and west. As may be seen in the census table below, most left from 1940–1970, when the parish had steep population decreases. Regional agricultural problems contributed to outmigration, especially after increasing mechanization in the 1930s reduced the need for laborers. At this time many African Americans from Louisiana went to California, where the defense industry associated with World War II was growing and workers were needed.
The parish has a total area of 402 square miles, of which 389 square miles is land and 13 square mile (3.18%) is water. The population recorded in the 1880 Federal Census was 8,573. The 2010 census recorded 9,091 residents in the Parish.
Neigboring parishes are Caddo Parish (northwest), Bossier Parish (north), Bienville Parish (northeast), Natchitoches Parish (southeast), and DeSoto Parish (west). Communities in the parish include Coushatta, Crichton (historical), Edgefield, Grand Bayou, Hall Summit, Lake End, and Martin.
Red River Parish Records
Birth Records - The Louisiana State office maintains records for 100 years after the date of birth. Birth records are considered confidential for the first 100 years. For current information on who may obtain a birth record as well as how to submit a request visit the Office of Public Health, Vital Records Registry website or write to them at PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Birth records older than 100 years are available through the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Death Records - The Louisiana State office maintains records for 100 years after the date of death. Death records are considered confidential for the first 100 years. For current information on who may obtain a death record as well as how to submit a request visit the Office of Public Health, Vital Records Registry website or write to them at PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Death records older than 100 years are available through the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Marriage Records - For current information on how to submit a request for a certified copy of an Orleans Parish marriage record less than 50 years old, see the Louisiana Office of Public Health Director, Vital Records and Statistics website or write to PO Box 60630, New Orleans, LA 70160.
Marriage records over 50 years are stored by the Louisiana State Archives, 3851 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. (225) 922-1000.
Divorce Records - To obtain current information on how to submit a request for a certified copy of divorce records contact the Clerk of Court. For the address of the parish Clerk of Court visit the Red River Parish Important Addresses page.